I’d never heard of Mario Costeja González, until a few days ago when I learnt that he’d suffered a personal financial set back in 1998, and having since recovered wanted that information deleted from the world wide web.
According to the Court of Justice of the European Union, individuals have a right to control their private data, especially if they are not public figures. Great news, but not very helpful or insightful after the fact of the Snowden revelations!
In the virtual world the wish to be forgotten is simply that-wishful thinking, while in the real world anything we upload or disseminate online will never, ever be deleted. It might be harder to find-but the original data will always remain-somewhere out there until it is ‘remembered’ through an online search. But, memory is a tricky concept because it
“throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things;
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth, and polished
As if the world gave up
The secret of its skeleton,
Stiff and white.
A broken spring in a factory yard,
Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
Hard and curled and ready to snap” (Eliot, 1920)
No-one is truly forgotten, but they may not be remembered unless they choose to remind us so.
Eliot, T. (1920). Prufrock and Other Observations. London: Faber & Faber.